Airline to introduce XL class

2013-06-19 09:30

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Wellington -  A tiny Samoan airline says it will introduce an "XL" class for super-sized passengers, featuring extra-wide rows and special ramps to help them reach their seats. Samoa Air has already pioneered a world first when late last year it began charging passengers fares based on how much they weigh, rather than a set price for each seat.

Chief executive Chris Langton said the measure had proved a success and the airline now planned to provide a special service so passengers weighing more than 130 kilograms (287 pounds) could travel in greater comfort.

"Quite often the access is difficult and... after you've squeezed into the seats there's no room for your legs," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"We don't have a large fleet of aeroplanes, but we wanted to do something that recognises that we are thinking about this."

He said rows in the new class had been extended to make them 12-14 inches (30-35 centimetres) wider, with customised ramps introduced to make access to them easier.

"It's sort of like a three-seat couch," he said.

Langton predicted other carriers would follow Samoa Air's lead, saying it made sense to charge by weight and cabins needed to be refitted to cope with expanding waistlines.

"That's where the XL has come in," he said. "We do it with shirts and clothing and other things where we have different standard sizes.

"The airline industry is going to have to do that."

The World Health Organisation says Samoa has one of the world's highest rates of obesity, leading to soaring levels of weight-related coronary disease, diabetes and strokes in the Pacific island nation.


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